Worth a few moments of consideration…


Came back from a lovely low-connectivity vacation in the mountains to 3 Asks and 2 DMs wanting to know all about the new Omicron variant that seems to be running rampant in South Africa and neighboring countries. So, some things ….

  1. Like I said, I just got back from vacation late yesterday afternoon. I was not checking the news on vacation. So the info that follows was gleaned from poking around here and there this morning sipping my coffee. So, like everything about Omicon at this point in time, it is very preliminary.
  2. It didn’t take the science types very long to declare Omicon a “variant of concern,” which is unusual. So there are 4 categories to keep in mind, representing levels of seriousness: “Variants Being Monitored” (VBM) which is a long laundry list of identified variants that never really caught on (anyone remember the “mu” variant? It’s in the VBM category now); “Variants of Interest” (VOI), a category which is currently empty; “Variants of Concern” (VOC), a category which until Friday contained only one variant – Delta. Delta has now been joined by Omicon as VOC’s; and the most serious category, “Variants of High Consequence” (VOHC), this is the “oh holy shit” category, a variant that is able to escape test results and/or can blow past our current vaccines. To date, there has been no variant in the VOHC category, thank the gods.
  3. The reason the science types immediately bumped Omicon up to the VOC category is because it exhibits a large number of mutations, some of which suggest significantly higher transmissibility than Delta and some of which suggest at least the possibility of potential “immune escape” (the ability to do an end run around the antibodies created from vaccination or catching and recovering from COVID). The science types are being smart by using words like “suggest” and “possibility,” because at this point we just don’t know. The fact that it’s being found in numerous southern African countries (with a small handful detected in Europe/UK in travelers returning from those areas) seems to strongly argue for the likelihood of increased transmissibility, but it’ll be a couple of weeks before we know how effective our current array of vaccines are against Omicon.
  4. Beyond that, we don’t know a hell of a lot.
    I’ll keep my ears open for any info on the daily calls I sit in on at my hospital and keep everyone current on any info that is cleared for public release. But it’ll be a couple of weeks before we have a clear picture of what we’re dealing with. In the meantime, you all know what things work to prevent catching any virus variant of any kind:
    Wear your mask.
    Wash your hands.
    Watch your distance.
    Operating on the assumption that current vaccines will be as effective against Omicon as it has been against the other variants so far, get vaccinated.
    And get your ass up and moving. Exercise to improve your metabolism and strengthen your immune system, so that if you are exposed, your body has a better chance of riding it out. Survival favors the strong.